Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How is Hong Kong to be a trading centre if our trade fairs are dying?

How is Hong Kong to be a trading centre if our trade fairs are dying?

Recent rugby and bankers’ events enjoyed exemptions and were a success but international trade fairs, and the wider events and tourism industry, continue to suffer. How does Hong Kong plan to keep its strict measures and still fulfil its economic role in China’s national plan?

The physical presence of overseas exhibitors and buyers is crucial to the success of international trade fairs, but travellers continue to be turned away by Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic measures, the gradual relaxation of which has been described frustratingly as “squeezing toothpaste”.

As an Asian product sourcing event with a long history of 30 years, Mega Show returned on November 15 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with only 700 booths this year, a mere eighth of its size before the Covid-19 pandemic.

We urge Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu to explain the following matters to the industry and the public. First, when will the Hong Kong government announce a clear road map for Hong Kong’s return to normalcy?

Second, given that anti-epidemic measures were tailor-made for the participants of the two major events this month, can a similar special arrangement be made for those attending large international trade fairs? For example, allowing those assigned an amber code on their vaccine passes to dine in specified restaurants?

Third, with the slow easing of the anti-epidemic measures that are tantamount to trade barriers, how is Hong Kong to succeed as a national economic platform for “bringing in” and “going out”, to fulfil its role in China’s 14th five-year plan?

Last September, Hong Kong’s quarantine measures for inbound travellers were relaxed to 0+3, meaning no hotel quarantine and just three days of medical surveillance. But the rebound in visitors has been lacklustre. On November 12, for example, the 14,624 arrivals were mostly of Hong Kong residents, with only 1,886 from the mainland and 1,635 from other places.

Though nearby countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Japan and South Korea are not completely free of Covid-19, they have loosened their epidemic measures much sooner than Hong Kong. As a result, these economies are expected to expand by 2-4 per cent this year, meaning that all of them have embarked on a post-pandemic recovery.

Like Hong Kong, these countries are export-oriented, and affected by interest rate increases and global economic factors. Yet Hong Kong is looking at an economic contraction of 3.2 per cent for the year.

Tourists bring considerable foreign exchange earnings. In particular, business tourists are high spenders. As the exhibition capital of Asia and an international centre of trade, Hong Kong used to attract many overseas business travellers every year.

Before Covid-19 hit, in 2018, more than 14 million people flew into Hong Kong, an average of nearly 1.2 million per month. In 2019, despite the social unrest, nearly 800,000 overseas tourists still visited Hong Kong in December.

Quite simply, Hong Kong has not relaxed its Covid-19 measures enough to bring tourists back. This is directly harming the city’s economy – stifling tourism-related enterprises, forcing travel agencies and restaurants to go out of business, and shrinking international trade fairs. The economy will continue to suffer unless the Hong Kong government takes serious action.

The battle against Covid-19 has lasted for more than 1,000 days. While daily caseloads still number in the high thousands, the number of severe cases and fatality rate remain extremely low.

The coronavirus has not been cleared, but the local economy has been emptied. The Hong Kong government has insisted that it will continue with epidemic prevention but the sad reality is that it is chasing its own tail.

People dine outside a closed shop in Hong Kong on November 10.

Having been engaged in the international trade exhibition business in Hong Kong for more than 30 years, we see that the current strict anti-epidemic policy being kept on by Hong Kong government is deterring most overseas exhibitors and buyers. Requiring inbound travellers to undergo multiple rounds of compulsory testing, for example, is complicated and lacks transparency.

As business travellers generally have a tight schedule, it is really difficult for them to accept the three-day amber code restriction upon arrival. This is a barrier to efforts to attract them to Hong Kong. Therefore, the number of passengers arriving continues to be sluggish, and airlines cannot arrange too many flights, which directly leads to high air ticket prices.

Before the pandemic, Mega Show was the largest Asian product sourcing event held in Hong Kong every autumn, with more than 5,000 booths in its heyday, attracting buyers from around the world.

The glorious days when such international trade fairs brought Hong Kong hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign exchange earnings have become history. During the epidemic, such trade fairs were cancelled, forcing many senior industry professionals to switch careers, and the industry has, sadly, lost talents.

China’s 14th five-year plan clearly supports Hong Kong in enhancing its status as an international centre of trade. The Hong Kong government has also shown that it is actively exploring the huge opportunities offered by domestic and international circulation, in helping Chinese enterprises to tap the international market, and helping foreign investors to explore business prospects in the mainland and Asia.

In the past, many buyers would go on to make stops in the mainland and around the region after attending Hong Kong’s exhibitions. But given Hong Kong’s epidemic-prevention measures, and with quarantine-free travel between the mainland and Hong Kong yet to resume, there is now even less desire to visit Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government and the central government must solve this problem as soon as possible.

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.